The latest Knights Chronicle update has angered many fans of the gacha RPG, with some leaving the game over the changes. As anticipated, the addition of costumes that give significant advantages has proven to be controversial and led to numerous 1 star reviews for the game.
Last week, Netmarble released a major new update for its hero collection game that updated included numerous small changes, a couple of new characters, and most importantly costumes. The newly added costumes not only change a character’s appearance but also improve their stats and unlock new upgrade possibilities. Of course most of these costumes need to be obtained using premium currency.
This alone led to cries of “power creep”, the process of releasing new content that is more powerful than existing content and making older content less useful. Though power creep is often disliked by gamers, it can be a necessary part of keeping a game fresh and releasing new compelling content that gets users to stick around. More importantly for publishers, it gets to spend money on the game.
Though the release of the new costumes may have proven to be controversial but it is the addition of “special” costumes that has provoked an outcry from the game’s community. Special costumes provide all of the benefits of standard costumes while also significantly improving a character’s skills. The biggest issue that the game’s fans have had with these new costumes is not their overwhelming power, it is the fact that special costumes can only be purchased with real money.
Costing approximately $20 each, these costumes cross what is a red line for some gamers. Though many mobile gamers accept that players who spend money on a game will have an advantage when it comes to more chances to draw collectible characters, increased storage options, or the ability to bypass some timers, they can be quite firm about their opposition to cash-only items.
Cash-only items that give players an advantage create a hard paywall that puts a limit on how far free to play users can go in a game. While those limits effectively exist in most gacha games, they are hidden behind the idea that a player always has a chance to get a great character using freely obtained premium currency. Hard paywalls dispel the notion that free to play users can compete and put a ceiling on how far they can get.
In the case of Knights Chronicle, a game that was previously regarded as being extremely free to play friendly, these new special costumes further limit how far a non-paying user can go in the game’s PVP modes or how high they can rise in certain single player leaderboards. The core single-player story mode is still perfectly playable for free to play users.
While some may be turned off by the update, others may spend away and help the game generate revenue. At the same time the update may shatter Knights Chronicle’s reputation as being free to play friendly, making it more difficult (and expensive) for the game to acquire new users. If one were to listen to some former fans of the game, this update will destroy the game. At the same time, there is no shortage of successful games that give strong advantages to paying players.